A Citizen of the World
March 2019 Issue
by Michele Roldán-Shaw
Photography by Christian Lee
Joan Apple Lemoine is a citizen of the world. She has taken an active interest in everything from space policy to human trafficking to local high school trivia bowls. A particular passion is women’s equality, and the “book party” she throws each year on the anniversary of women’s suffrage is becoming legend—guests bring one or more books for young girls that Joan collects for a local nonprofit such as the Literacy Center. Last year’s party resulted in a donation of 200. Next on the to-do list: Engage Hilton Head in a sister-city program.
Joan recently retired as executive director of the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head, the local chapter of a nonpartisan, non-profit grassroots organization in the United States dedicated to educating and engaging the American public on global issues. Before that, she retired from a 30-year career in higher education administration that took her to four different universities, the last of which was USCB. But leisure is not something Joan knows too much about, so her work these days is mostly volunteer.
“I’ve always considered myself an educator,” said Joan, whose involvement with the Academic WorldQuest program in Beaufort County schools will mean chaperoning the winning quiz team to Qatar later this year. “If you’ve done any college work, you would probably agree with me that you learned as much outside the classroom as in it, so I’ve always felt I could expand the life of undergraduates.”
Still very active with the World Affairs Council at the volunteer level, Joan will have a hand this year in bringing to Hilton Head such high-profile speakers as the Assistant Secretary to the Navy, the President and Publisher of USA Today, the former ambassador to France, and others who will speak on topics such as global health, climate change, terrorism, US-Cuban relations, and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
“Being informed is huge,” said Joan, adding that it’s important to read multiple sources about an issue, and to not only keep up with current events, but also to learn the religious and cultural histories of other countries in order to understand today’s climate. “It’s so easy to become insulated and parochial and not care what’s going on in the world around us. But if we don’t know about the challenges people are facing and how we can assist them, then we are not good world citizens.”
Joan’s longstanding interest in global affairs has combined with a sense of adventure to take her beyond the forums and seminars and out into the world itself, such as the “phenomenal” bicycle tour of Vietnam she did with her husband. “By traveling I’ve learned more about myself,” said Joan, who trained for her trek along Peru’s Inca Trail by walking the track and going up and down stadium steps with ankle weights and a pack. “Most people come home saying how lucky they are to be living here with all the comforts they have, but they also gain more respect for the challenges people are facing. What I have seen of the world has made me very appreciative of what I have, but also of what others bring to the table.”
Hometown: Paoli, Indiana
Married to: John Lemoine for 48 years (they met at Indiana University)
Next destination: Morocco
Current reads: A House in Fez and A Piece of the World
Favorite bike ride: 50-mile tour of working plantations in Beaufort, Hampton, and Colleton Counties
Best way to relax: Getting a massage every 4 weeks
How to be a good world citizen: Know what’s going on, donate time and money if you have it, and be welcoming toward people who come here from afar.